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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

HISTORY   AND    HUMAN    RELATIONS

lacking in analytical power as historians; and if
Macaulay could compare the year 1685 with the present
day he failed to see how many things had developed
during the course of centuries, or how understandable
many of the anomalies of a past age can be when they
have been placed in their proper setting. Carlyle could
* see vague, profound, intangible moral reasons for the
French Revolution, but he had no inkling of the nature,
the structure and the human implications of the ancien
regime. These writers made a contribution to the
historical explanation of the past, but they remained in
what one might describe as a limited world of explana-
tion. Macaulay has some excellent expository passages,
but he evades problems that are of an exacting nature.

Above all, the great literary narratives, though they
gain in one respect, lose in another way, from the fact
that they take us through so much of the story as though
we we*e contemporary observers of it. The survey of
events as a contemporary might see them is a necessary
constituent, but is only one of the constituents of a
genuine historical view. It is a feature of contemporary
history that problems of structure and organisation are
avoided—the narrative tends to assume a certain shape
from the mere fact that the narrator is taking sides. The
chief structural defects of the literary historians spring
from the disadvantage that in their hands the whole
story would marshal itself in a certain way because the
author was identifying himself with one of the parties
against the other. These writers were not always con-
scious of the defect, and Macaulay lets fall certain
criticisms of die Whig historians which show that he did

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